|photography by Elizabeth Lavin|
A restaurant that takes the time to age its beef 28 days and cure its own meats inevitably has taken the time to find a discerning sommelier to pair wines with a progressive menu. At Charlie Palmer, nestled in the Hotel Joule downtown, sommelier Drew Hendricks is the go-to guy. Before opening, he took six months to scout wines and stock both the cellar for the restaurant and the adjoining retail store, Next Vintage. There are several collectors’ bottles on the list-a 1989 Lafite Rothschild ($735)-but the real treat comes when you let Hendricks make your choices. He recommends Lambrusco (2007 Tenuta Pederzana Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, $8/glass, $46/bottle), an Italian effervescent red wine served chilled, as an ideal match with the house salumi platter. He also suggests the Hirsch GrÃ¼ner Veltliner ($10/glass, $40/bottle), an Austrian wine, to go with a salad of ruby beet, goat cheese, and toasted hazelnuts. Thanks to Hendricks, finding a wine at Charlie Palmer is fun. Diners receive an electronic tablet PC that looks like an oversized PalmPilot, which allows you to browse by price, varietal, and vintage. Many of the wines on the list-about 300 of the 700-are available for purchase at the shop. You will be surprised to find the bottle prices in the restaurant are not heavily marked up from the retail shop: wines priced under $115 are marked up $25, and wines exceeding that are marked up only $35. That’s unheard of in the industry-generally restaurants double or triple retail price. If you can’t stay for dinner, hit the bar for specialty cocktails developed by Hendricks, such as the Les Pommes de L’Autumne ($15), a tasty concoction made with apple brandy, lemon juice, ginger, and cider, topped with a spiced, oven-dried apple slice.